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Living a Biking Lifestyle in Sun Valley, Idaho

Sun Valley, Idaho is a resort town that loves biking of all types. There are many dedicated bike paths that are separated from highways. Mountain biking is quite popular as well.  Railroad magnet Averill Harriman sent Count Schaffgotsch on a yearlong trip to the west in pursuit of the perfect vacation destination to create passenger traffic for his railroad. The Count found Sun Valley and was immediately hooked on the beauty of the Sawtooth Mountains. Sun Valley (5940 feet) is actually quite small, mostly made up of the famous 5 star resort that has long drawn in celebrities and the world’s wealthy. Located on the Big Wood River, Sun Valley is just outside of Ketchum, former home of Ernest Hemingway, and current location of Mt. Baldy - one of the world’s top ski mountains. Ketchum, low-key but decidedly prosperous, is in turn about 13 miles from Hailey, the region’s business center and nearest airport. 

Movies set in this gorgeous locale include “Bus Stop” and “Sun Valley Serenade”. Less wealthy settlers include the shepherding Basques who came to tend the numerous flocks of sheep that summer here. Ski bums and outdoorsy types also abound, along with wealthy owners of second homes and retirees.  Skiing, golf, hiking, fishing, and mountain biking are superb here. The air is dry and summers are pleasant, winters are warm for a ski resort.

Where to Retire in Sun Valley and Home Prices

The immediate Sun Valley-area includes Sun Valley (pop. 1,400) and Ketchum (pop. 2,700), only one mile away from Sun Valley.  Ketchum is considered by most to be basically comparable to Sun Valley in terms of desirablility and price. According to Zillow, the median home value in Sun Valley was $1,112,758 in mid-2022, the median home value in Ketchum was $1,184,145. However, some beautifully rusticated western homes sell for millions.  Hailey (pop. 8K), 12 miles south, is significantly more reasonably priced than Sun Valley and Ketchum. In Hailey, most homes range from $250,000 to $700,000.

What Is Special about Sun Valley

Beautiful setting; a desert in the mountains; Sun Valley Lodge and resort. Low key, outdoorsy atmosphere. Skiing (downhill and cross country), hiking, fishing, biking, etc.  Relatively mild climate. Gorgeous Redfish Lake one hour north.  Rustic yet refined.

What Is Not Special about Sun Valley

• It’s busy in the season • Development is going to continue • Housing is expensive but prone to boom and bust 

Climate and Physical Environment

Sun Valley, located in central Idaho. Climate is dry and sunny.  It is also one of the warmer ski resorts in the west. Some years it has problems getting enough snow but ski mountain has good snowmaking. Average January temp is 31 high, 8 low; average July temp is 81 high, 45 low. Altitude is just under 6,000'.

Restaurants & Cultural Scene

There are some very nice shops and galleries in Sun Valley. Plus many first-rate restaurants.


There is not much crime in affluent Sun Valley.

Medical Facilities

St. Luke's Hospital is located in Ketchum--built in 2000 or so, quite posh.


The Ketchum Airport could not be closer or more convenient.

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